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High-velocity IT: overcoming challenges and setting objectives

Blog posted by: Paul Wilkinson – Business development director, Gamingworks, 19 June 2020.

High-velocity IT operating in a city

What is the imperative for organizations moving to a high-velocity IT environment?

Scarce resources, growing demands, continually shifting goals, the need for speed and end-to-end, sustainable behaviours that deliver agreed business value in times of agile transformation. Is that imperative enough to raise the game?

However, there are numerous challenges to overcome before adopting high-velocity IT methods:

  1. Focusing on value
    This is one of the core ITIL® guiding principles and fits in with one of the five high-level digital objectives of ITIL 4 Specialist: High-velocity IT (HVIT). However, you first need to understand that value differs depending on who you are. One stakeholder might say revenue growth is value, another may say brand image and reputation. So, which demand should IT focus on first? Only at the governance level can you decide which value trumps another.
  2. Transforming products
    There is a shift towards more agile ways of working, with DevOps teams and a shift to “product thinking”. “Project thinking” might hope for IT support and resources to build a new website, then disband the project. Conversely, “product thinking” demands a team with a dedicated product owner, DevOps and agile practitioners with budget and resources who continue to innovate, support and maintain the product. This end-to-end product ownership approach is a major shift in how teams and budgets are organized.
  3. End-to-end IT services
    The conflicting demands among IT developers, IT engineers and service desk support are all making a claim on limited resources to achieve what they consider as ‘value’, such as fast deployment, stable systems or fast resolutions. What is the relative priority of new development investments, keeping operations resilient and happy customers happy with the level of support? Deciding this needs skills to negotiate, make a business case and mechanisms to focus on the right value.
  4. Behaviour and culture
    Some might mistake ITIL’s guiding principles for slogans or catchphrases. This is why organizations need to translate them into desirable, sustainable behaviours. Changing attitudes and behaviour is the prelude to embedding a new culture; one ready for high-velocity IT.

Understanding digital objectives for high-velocity IT

To help address these challenges, five high-level “digital objectives” have been distilled from HVIT into an “essential skills for the digital era” infographic:

  1. Valuable investments
    Your digital investments should align with organization goals and this comes from understanding the comparative needs of different stakeholders. You achieve this only by engaging with them in language and terms they understand.
  2. Fast development
    Frequent, incremental changes to digital services need effective, end-to-end collaboration between teams in the value chain. This means clarity on who owns the shared goals, the behaviours and how you embed them into a way of working. It also requires a shift in how people see the traditional ITIL approach to change: change – when done safely – is a fast enabler and not a control mechanism.
  3. Resilient operations
    Having resilient and adaptable people delivering reliable, consistent services via fast development and deployment requires effective feedback: on use of services and behaviours, coupled with continual learning and improvement. The ability to reflect and improve is a core skill and managers need to allocate time for this.
  4. Co-created value
    Do you understand what value is from different stakeholders’ perspectives? Whatever their individual priorities, they need to come together willingly and agree whose value deserves the greater priority when resource conflicts arise.
  5. Assured conformance
    IT governance comprises performance and conformance. Where new, valuable investments are performance, security/cyber risk and data privacy are conformance. What you need to balance is – for example – achieving revenue growth versus not releasing something too quickly without sufficient security mechanisms in place.

Adopting and benefiting from high-velocity IT methods takes time, funding and effort to change attitudes, behaviour and culture. It also needs clear understanding of your organization’s strategic direction and what is important for the future, such as remaining competitive.

Asking what value high-velocity IT will deliver means visualizing the different types of value it’s possible to achieve and balancing that against the short-term impact on costs and resources.


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